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National partner profile: Belgium

Belgian Homeless Cup

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Belgian Homeless Cup is a social sports project designed to motivate and help homeless people reintegrate into society. It works through a combination of sports and social activities, and it also aims to raise awareness and challenge stereotypes of homelessness.

Some participants are literally roofless – and others are in poor housing situations – but all suffer from a cluster of problems such as debt, substance abuse, mental health problems, and lack of education.

The project gives its participants a chance to concentrate on their strengths, to find themselves as individuals again, and to learn to work together as a team. Football is the motivator which works as a trigger to tackle other areas in life such as housing, health, work, training, and relationships.

BHC strive for a balance between sport and social issues. It is not necessarily the best players who win, but the team that has worked hardest to tackle their personal problems and made the most progress. No one is left behind or excluded, and non-footballers are invited to play a role as supporters and volunteers.

The project also aims to improve public opinion on homelessness by raising awareness on the entry conditions of homelessness, and the diverse paths into and out of it. By sharing individuals' stories and showing their strengths and weaknesses, they generate more empathy among the general public.

BHC operate as a network across Belgium and work closely with local shelters and footballing organisations.

Player profiles & Stories

Mission statement

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Belgian Homeless Cup believe that any person who finds in themselves the courage and strength to do something about their situation is a winner. They hold the view that everyone has strengths – that everyone has talents and abilities – and that no one is truly hopeless or lost.

Each person in a difficult situation is a fighter, a survivor.

Goals for the future

Tournaments

To develop more regional competitions modelled on their successful programme in Brussels

Sustainability

To develop a marketable product for fundraising and awareness raising

Additional information

Football Activities

BHC run up to 18 weekly training sessions across Belgium, a series of regional and national tournaments each year, and a series of awareness-raising tournaments with participants from the general community.

Non-football services

They organise team-building sessions and facilitate access to other services such as education and housing.

Participants challenges

Participants usually deal with substance abuse, poverty, domestic violence, are unregistered immigrants, or asylum seekers.

Country challenges

There is some evidence that the proportion of women and immigrants amongst homeless services users is increasing. More than one third of homeless people in Flanders are women and the numbers continue to increase. Most of them become homeless as a consequence of domestic violence. There is lack of coordinated action against homelessness on a national level since strategies are regionally based (FEANTSA, 2012).

Homlessness definition

The law considers as homeless "anyone who does not have housing, is not able to obtain housing through their own means, and therefore has no place of residency, or is temporarily residing in a foster home until housing is made available" (AMA, 2012).

Homelessness Statistics

In 2010, 3,185 individuals used homeless accommodation services in Brussels, more than 8,600 people stayed in hostels or supported housing in Flanders, and an additional 5,000 homeless people are estimated to live in Wallonia (FEANTSA, 2012).

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